Monday, March 21, 2016

86+ Day Facebook Fast: You're either busy living or busy dying.

Christmas was 86 days ago. So was the last time I posted to Facebook. I was never a frequent poster in the first place, but I did look at what others posted almost daily. Not only have I not posted for 86 days, but I've also not looked at what everyone else has been updating. 

Facebook offers us the unique opportunity to connect with family and friends, many of whom we haven't seen in a long time. However, although I do enjoy seeing what my friends and family are up to, I wish there was some hierarchy of news and posts which would allow me to see only the most important updates in their lives when I log in. If there were a cap in the amount of content a person could post to a social network, I'd join it. I'd like to view things closer to the importance level of events shared in annual Christmas letters sent by snail mail in the past than the situation I found myself in before starting my fast: sifting through hundreds of posts, including check-ins from restaurants and pictures of daily events that wouldn't normally even make a verbal recap of the day. All this was in an effort to keep tabs on important events in the lives of my friends and family. 

I suppose this sounds selfish or like I don't care, but what I really wish for is a realistic balance. As I've written about in the past, I have been monitoring my techcognition: the amount of time I spend using technology, time I am distracted by it, and time I'm not mentally present with those around me due to looking at news feeds, sports scores, social networks, texts, and emails. Last year I began to realize just how much time I was spending looking a Facebook and in many cases, a lot of trivial information from people whom I wasn't super close to and/or hadn't seen for years, sometimes decades. Facebook had become a time drain for me, and fed into FOMO.  

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Without completely blocking the news updates from someone, I don't know of a way to narrow this amount down and not miss something really important. I can't envision a company like Facebook wanting to create something that wouldn't be viewed as frequently or for as much time, so I doubt this will happen, but maybe some sort of grassroots social network will evolve soon. Until then, I've opted to just stay out of it. Facebook kind of reminds me of a prison where you are just spending time. This in turn makes me think of one of my favorite films, Shawshank Redemption, when character Andy Dufresne said to fellow inmate Red: 
"Life comes down to a simple choice: You're either busy living or busy dying."
I can honestly say I don't miss Facebook. I may end up checking it a few times a year. But as far as daily or even weekly log ins, I'm going to spend more time living with my family and friends in person. And I'm going to help my kids see the benefits of living this way to. My daughter tells me it's a social faux pas to post to Instagram more than once a week, so maybe our kids are learning this balance already. Less FOMO and more JOMO

If you haven't seen Prince EA's "Can We Auto Correct Humanity" video above, please make time for it. Check out the past episodes of Infomania from one of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self, too. I made a couple of brief appearances on those episodes related to this very topic.

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